100 Amazing Lectures to Follow the Future of Energy

Posted January 17, 2010

As the entire world tries to come up with a common plan to ease the transition into a future based on renewable, clean energy resources rather than oil or fossil fuels, every aspect of our society — from business to transportation to urban design to everyday life — struggles to develop its own solutions. Once you enter the workforce, you’ll be expected to make energy conservation and sustainability a part of your agenda, no matter what industry you’re a part of – criminal justice, engineering, liberal arts, science, math – or what your college degree is. To learn more about the future of energy, check out these 100 amazing lectures.

Alternative Energy

Learn about different types of energy solutions, including wind, solar and geothermal energy.

  1. Achieving U.S. Energy Security Through Energy Diversity: As the world changes, how come our reliance on one type of energy hasn’t? Bob Malone proposes a subsidized program for energy conservation and alternative energy.
  2. Glorious Geothermal: A Deeper Look at Geo Systems and Ground-Source Heat Pumps: Learn about geothermal energy alternatives here.
  3. Earth’s physical resources: renewable energy: From biofuel to wind power to hydroelectricity, learn about renewable energy options using Earth’s own resources.
  4. Introduction to Renewable Energy Options: This Berkeley law course introduces you to renewable energy options.
  5. Wonderful Wind: The Evolution of Wind Power Technology: Get an introduction to wind energy in this four-part lecture.
  6. Saul Griffith’s kites tap wind energy: Learn about the new kite turbines created by Makani Power to create clean energy.
  7. Bill Gross on new energy: Get an overview of the development of solar energy solutions.
  8. William Kamkwamba on building a windmill: Even if your resources are limited, William Kamkwamba proves that building a windmill is possible.
  9. Spectacular Sun: An Introduction to Solar Energy and Solar Heating: This three-part lecture will teach you the basics of solar energy solutions.
  10. Two Policies of Winning Sustainable Energy: Learn about the indirect and direct winning of sustainable energy.
  11. Hydropower: Using a River to Create Energy: Discover how this old-fashioned energy solution is getting a makeover.
  12. The World’s Fastest Growing Energy Source: Visit wind energy center in southwest Texas when you watch this video.
  13. The Future of Nuclear Energy: After listening to this panel discussion, you’ll learn about different possibilities for implementing nuclear energy systems.
  14. Geothermal – An Undervalued Primary U.S. Energy Source: Find out why geothermal is still viewed as the underdog in terms of alternative energy.

Conservation and Consumption

Discover how much energy we actually consume, and how we can limit our use of energy.

  1. The Most Important Number in the World: Environmentalist Bill McKibben talks about his efforts to promote more responsible energy consumption and bring awareness to the climate crisis.
  2. Energy: The Past Must Not be Prologue: Former Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Treasury and Secretary of State George Schlutz emphasizes how important the climate crisis is and considers a range of alternative energy solutions.
  3. Buildings That Think Green: This Berkeley Labs lecture names buildings the biggest drain on energy in the U.S. and proposes ways to cut consumption.

Policy and Global Issues

Here you will watch lectures about the debates, policies and campaigns to change the way the entire world uses energy.

  1. Energy for a Rapidly Evolving World: This panel discussion focuses on energy consumption, transportation, and the economics of the climate crisis.
  2. Speed and Scale: In this lecture, John Doerr spouts off the numbers for climate change and temperature increases, oil profits, and energy revenue, asking his audience to back policies that place a cap on energy consumption.
  3. Alex Steffen sees a sustainable future: As other countries mimic our wasteful, damaging western lifestyle, Alex Steffen believes that a sustainable future is the only way to survive.
  4. Forging a Clean Energy Future: Listen to this lecture to find out if Washington is ready to seriously talk about the energy crisis.
  5. How Would Climate Change Influence Society in the 21st Century?: Find out how developed and underdeveloped countries would have to change their daily habits just to survive flooding, food and water shortages, and mass exoduses.
  6. The Economics of and Prospects for a Global Deal: Find out the timeline for an agreement to regulate carbon pricing and non-carbon based energy solutions.
  7. John Bryson: Energy and Climate Policy: The Decade Ahead: John Bryson uses California as an example for the future of clean energy legislation.
  8. Climate Fingerprints: How Do We Know that Human Activities Have Influenced Global Climate?: In this lecture, you’ll analyze human behavior around the world to determine whether or not we’ve really caused the climate crisis.
  9. Environmental Decision-Making for the 21st Century: The Honorable Carol Browner, secretary of Florida’s Department of Environmental Regulation, discusses what we’ll all have to do to change laws and habits related to energy.
  10. The Necessity of a New Energy Policy: Find out why we cannot continue to use fossil fuels.
  11. Energy Deregulation: This video is from 2001 but serves as an introduction to the energy deregulation debate.
  12. Energy Policy and Politics: Learn about the various issues impacting energy policymaking.
  13. Global Resources and the Built Environment: Energy and other resources are being strained as people all over the world adopt urban lifestyles, which will lead to a global crisis, according to John Fernandez.
  14. Energy in a Global Context: Due to better quality of life in other nations and world trade, we need to develop new policies to reconcile environmental issues and our bursting economy.
  15. The Role of China in Energy Geopolitics: This video is also a few years old, but sheds light on how China started to become a part of the global energy conversation.
  16. Uncertainties in Climate Forecasts: Causes, Magnitudes and Policy Implications: This lecture aims to reconcile the different agendas and abilities of scientists and policymakers in terms of solving or predicting climate change.

Innovation and Technology

Discover the leading edge technology systems and creative projects that need to be supported if we want to develop practical, responsible tools for harnessing energy.

  1. Personalized Energy: Learn about scientist Daniel Nocera’s research campaign to find ways to manufacture personalized energy units.
  2. America’s Leadership in Clean Energy: Barack Obama discusses the importance of energy researchers and energy entrepreneurs to propel the clean energy industry.
  3. From IT to Cleantech: New Sources of Innovation: Shai Agassi has thought about solving the energy crisis from an economic and engineering perspective.
  4. Building Responsive Cities: Technology, Design and Development: In this panel discussion, MIT alumni consider new development strategies for urban planners.
  5. The Enernet: Can the Internet solve the energy crisis? Robert Metcalfe uses the example of the Internet as a way to explain why supporting small-scale technology projects is necessary for developing energy solutions.
  6. The City Car: This tiny, foldable car could be the future of transportation, at least in cities.
  7. When Bad Things Happen to Good Technologies: John Sterman argues that focusing too intently on how technology will solve the energy crisis, we need to come up with a new solution.
  8. Building Technology, Talent and Policy Bridges to a Low-Carbon Future: Listen to this lecture to better understand the new technologies that are being developed to "de-carboniz[e] the power supply."
  9. Earth Systems Engineering and Management: Before we get too carried away with our technology energy solutions, Brad Allenby warns, we need to prepare for the other kinds of side effects from new innovative tools and procedures.
  10. Earth: The Sequel — The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming: Find out how everyday business people and scientists are developing new systems for saving energy.
  11. Bioeconomics of Biofuels and the Shocking Science Behind Electric Cars: Learn how electric cars are really made and utilized.
  12. Power Electronics, Energy and Environment: This Virginia Tech lecture is given by university distinguished professor of computer and electrical engineering Fred Lee.
  13. The Role of New Technologies in a Sustainable Energy Economy: Here you’ll learn about efforts to engineer DNA codes from ancient ocean organisms.
  14. Science and Technology for a Clean Energy Future: Watch this panel discussion to learn how technology systems are getting us closer to solar power and more.
  15. The Role of Biomass in America’s Future: Biomass may be able to replace fossil fuels and bring our greenhouse gas emissions practically down to zero.

Business and Energy

These lectures discuss energy entrepreneurship, sustainable business practices, and more.

  1. Energy Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Today’s Challenges, Tomorrow’s Opportunities: Discover how the green economy is emerging, and what challenges stand in the way of energy entrepreneurs.
  2. Implementing Sustainability Strategies: Find out how corporations like IBM are fostering sustainability strategies in their operations.
  3. Leading and Environmentally Sustainable Enterprise: Martin Madaus asks business executives to be the leaders in developing sustainable systems that will hopefully translate into daily life.
  4. Innovation and Energy Security: A Leadership Odyssey: Find out why it’s so important to nurture a younger workforce in science and engineering.
  5. A View From Industry: Discover how GM has committed to being more environmentally conscious in its operations.
  6. Economics: Regulation and Deregulation of Energy Sectors: Paul L. Joskow believes that energy is already heavily regulated, to unfortunate results.
  7. Sustainability is Only Half the Solution, Regeneration is the Other Half: Carol Sanford likens the way humans run the Earth to the way you would run a business, and maintains that if the Earth were a business institution, it would be going broke.
  8. The Purpose of Business: John Browne leads this talk about how important it is for businesses to invest in the future and new energy systems.

Economic Issues

Check out these lectures to learn more about energy regulation and energy supply and demand.

  1. Opportunities in Building More Sustainable Supply Chains: Richard M. Locke believes more collaborative supply chains that adhere to green principles are more effective.
  2. The U.S. Energy Crisis and the Role of New Nuclear Plants: Just as the oil industry is so volatile, electricity is expected to become an unstable resource. This lecture offers a plan to use nuclear plants to help the economy and the energy crisis.
  3. Toward Restoring an Efficient and Effective Energy Market: This lecture given at the University of Houston considers ways that academic institutions can help create an energy market.
  4. Growing Pains: Transitioning to a Sustainable Energy Economy: Find out what needs to happen for true energy reform.
  5. Solar Revolution: The Economic Transformation of the Global Energy Industry: If solar energy turns out to be the cheapest form of energy, what will that mean for the economy?
  6. Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for Business and Society: Instead of seeing "go green" as a new trend, Richard Locke believes adopting sustainable practices is an opportunity for innovation and new business.
  7. Energy 2.0: Jeffery Immelt argues that unlike the health care business, energy isn’t being continually reinvented and repackaged, which is a mistake since demand for energy systems is up worldwide.

Science and Engineering

Get technical explanations of energy research projects here.

  1. Luminescent Solar Concentrators Explained: Once engineers can develop a way to install their new solar cell, they’ll be able to manufacture it inexpensively and convert sunlight to electricity.
  2. Global and Regional Climate Change: Underlying Science and Emerging Riddles: Find out what’s really damaging our atmosphere and causing temperatures to rise globally.
  3. Nanoscale Engineering for High Performance Solar Cells: This is another lecture about solar power and developing new sources for electricity and light.
  4. High Eco-Tech: Building Avant la Garde: Architect Werner Sobek talks about his impressive and eco-friendly structures.
  5. Brian Greene on string theory: Brian Greene explains the theory that holds that there are 11 dimensions filled with vibrating energy.
  6. The Second Law and Energy: This panel discussion brings up solutions to finding alternative energy by using the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
  7. Geosciences and Carbon Sequestration to Address Climate Change: Listen to this lecture to learn why some believe geoengineering is the only way to "fix" climate change in a timely manner.
  8. The Energy Problem and the Interplay Between Basic and Applied Research: Steven Chu tries to inspire scientists and engineers to amp up their efforts to solve problems relating to energy efficiency and conservation.
  9. Exploring the Deep Sea for Corals and Clues to Our Climatic Past: Jess Adkins’ lecture explains how deep sea corals can tell us a lot about climate history.
  10. Our Energy Future: Why American Science and Engineering Must Lead the Way: Samuel W. Bodman argues that to remain competitive in the global economy, Americans must lead the energy revolution.

Energy in Everyday Life

Find out how the energy crisis affects your everyday life from these lectures.

  1. John La Grou plugs smart power outlets: The future of everyday electrical outlets will use microprocessors and RFID tags will not only be environmentally conscious but much safer.
  2. Al Gore on averting climate crisis: If you’d like to learn easy ways to solve the climate crisis yourself, listen to this joke-filled talk by Al Gore.
  3. A Zero-Hero Home: Healthy Homes for You and the Environment: In this four-part lecture, you’ll learn what constitutes energy efficient, and safe, homes.
  4. Global Warming, Up Close and Local: This lecture explains that we can no longer point to the polar ice caps as the only indication of global warming: it’s happening all around us.
  5. Opportunities in Infrastructure and Built Environment: Learn about new energy efficient practices and standards adopted by cities.
  6. Improving Today’s Energy Systems: Find out what’s being done — or should be done — to change energy today.
  7. Kevin Surace invents eco-friendly drywall: Kevin Surace of Serious Materials discusses his invention of a recyclable drywall aimed at revolutionizing the construction industry.

Oil and Alternative Fuels

These lecture point to new alternatives to fossil fuels.

  1. Building Microbe Refineries: Listen to this lecture to imagine using man-made gas instead of oil.
  2. Juan Enriquez wants to grow energy: Here you’ll learn about bioenergy — coal, gas and oil — and how to grow it and manage it.
  3. Shai Agassi’s bold plan for electric cars: Shai Agassi asks his audience how they’d run an entire country without oil.
  4. Al Gore warns on latest climate trends: Al Gore talks about clean coal in this lecture.
  5. Edward Burtynsky photographs the landscape of oil: View photographs that document the ugly side of the oil industry.
  6. Steven Cowley: Fusion is energy’s future: Consider nuclear fusion as an alternative fuel option.
  7. Amory Lovins on winning the oil endgame: In an effort to strengthen the economy and find alternative energy solutions, Amory Lovins hopes to decrease our reliance on oil.
  8. Solar Energy as a Major Replacement for Fossil Fuel: Roger Angel comes up with different ways to use solar power to help us become more independent of fossil fuels.
  9. Whales to Wood, Wood to Coal/Oil – What’s Next?: Study the evolution of our "fossil fuel habit" here.
  10. Rob Hopkins: Transition to a world without oil: Rob Hopkins explains why we need to start transitioning to a world without oil.

Ethical Issues

Consider the ethical issues of climate change, oil and more.

  1. Climategate: This lecture addresses the aftermath of a scandal centering around email hackers who targeted University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.
  2. Peace and Chemistry Global Environmental Issues: You’ll learn to take an honest evaluation of your own wasteful tendencies after listening to this lecture.


From green design to dark energy and more energy efficient transportation solutions, these videos address a variety of energy topics.

  1. Patricia Burchat sheds light on dark matter: Find out why dark matter and dark energy are so important to our understanding of the energy we use.
  2. Stewart Brand proclaims 4 environmental heresies: Longtime environmental activist and scientist Stewart Brand addresses new ideas regarding nuclear power, urbanization, greenhouse gases and geo-engineering.
  3. Beneficial Buildings: Green Buildings and Alternative Building Materials: Learn about green engineering and design here.
  4. Transportation: Here you’ll view a presentation about new transportation alternatives.
  5. Energy: This lecture offers a broad overview of the challenges we face as we try to reinvent energy.
  6. Energy for the Coming Decades: Trends and Technologies: Steve Koonin argues that the biggest factor in the energy crisis right now is the cost to supply our growing energy needs.
  7. Smart Energy: This collection of lectures from Stanford includes talks about nuclear energy, water power and more.
  8. Energy Seminar: Consider greenhouse gas emissions, the energy economy, solar cell technology and sustainable energy systems here.

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